Ofentse Mokwena | The life-saving surgery Metrorail needs

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Ofentse Mokwena (Supplied)
Ofentse Mokwena (Supplied)

A smoking pipedream hovers over the African continent: railways for and by the people. Infrastructure to integrate this massive stretch of land, where exploitation scrambled, carved and drilled to lay the foundations of modern cities, towns and slums.

It is upon these foundations that much of the infrastructure, human settlements and industry are anchored. For passenger rail in South Africa, the "anthropological" classification of races informed who would be forcefully removed and how this "labour" would fuel the city.

From the forced removal of residents away from the city into townships came with an expectation that they would pay the full cost of travel on the new rail lines. It was only until "pricing at what commuters could afford" took precedence in the 1960s that the "public interest" notion was born. As an Evening with Belafonte and Makeba echoed Mbombela or Train Song, it slickly paints a silhouette of departure in 1965.

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